Where should the gold box be

hey I have not posted here much lately so hello again, anyhow someone told me today at mass in the most authoritative way you might imagine that there was a writing come down from on high more than 5 years ago now requiring all tabernacles to be moved off to the side away from the sanctuary so as not to be a distraction during the mass. This was new to me so I asked the 64 thousand $ question. From who? What was this apostolic teaching called? was it the bishops council or the pope? (she claimed the whole world had to do this) I don’t know the name of the letter. don’t know when it was written other than more than 5 years ago.

does anyone have any idea what this individual is talking about? how could the presence of Christ distract you from the presence of Christ? When was such a letter handed down? anyone have any idea?

thanks I will await your response.


down under (like Australia)

In the words of Col. Potter, “Horse Pucky.” This person is incorrect.

Liars go to Hell… is the anwer…and to teach wrong is a huge sin…
the tabernacle is the main focus, God.

to put God to the side is a sin against the greatest commandment…

This article –

has very useful references to applicable documents. There is no document saying the tabernacle MUST be moved to the side.

False. It works in some places, especially cathedrals with high foot traffic, but this is not required in any sense of the term, certainly not in average parishes.

Can someone explain to me how the tabernacle can be a “distraction”???

Why did we have to get rid of the High Altars WITH the Tabernacle on the Altar, Dead center??? :frowning: :mad::mad:

Having the Tabernacle in the Center is no distraction, after all, the whole reason that the particular Church was built, was to house HIS REAL PRESENCE.

I’m afraid that I have to disagree somewhat with the “horse pucky” consensus here.
Where I live and in my home parish (a small church) the Tabernacle is on a small table to the right of the altar (as seen from the pews).
At the parish where I grew up, they planned a renovation which made the church a bit more “cross shaped” and there was much debate about the location of the Tabernacle with the parishioners wanting it front and center and the diocese (apparently) wanting it moved to separate adoration chapel.
I don’t know all the details - just that it was a bit of a row and it took some compromising on the part of both parties.
At a third parish that I attend regularly - it is a fairly new Church and the Tabernacle is in a separate “adoration chapel” one enters the doors and if you turn right you go into the Adoration chapel, turn left and you enter the Church next to the Altar. During mass the doors between the two areas are kept open…

My point being here that - there does seem to be some validity to the idea that, at least in some diocese, there is a desire to move the tabernacle “to the side” - or to it’s own chapel. How widespread this is among the diocese or who/how this came to be I do not know but apparently it does exist…

That said…I agree with those who ask how it could be a distraction - and particularly in small churches I just don’t see the need to move it.

Actually I am hopeful that as the EF makes inroads into more common usage (slowly but surely) the bishops of the future will begin to reverse this trend.


Good question. And you receive an example just one post later:

During mass the Church has presented the theology that the emphasis should be on the actions of the mass occurring on the altar- thus the altar should be the focus.

The tabernacle is principally use to house the Blessed Sacrament to be used in the Sacrament of the sick and for adoration.

Vatican II also presented the notion that having the tabernacle on the side or in a chapel was the older practice- we see this in St. Peter’s for example.

But for Church’s committed to the EF- they would need the tabernacle in the middle and that’s fine. I’m not sure that either was is “right” or Wrong" as long as the tabernacle is given a place of honor.

I see benefits to moth. I do like the visual appeal and centrality of the tabernacle in the center of the altar. I also like the “closeness” of it in the chapels. I have a visual impairment so having it closer is especially nice for me.

Perhaps I should have been more specific… Horse pucky over the untruth that there was ever any sort of document “requiring all tabernacles to be moved off to the side away from the sanctuary.” Unless of course you can cite one? Sorry, the horse pucky evaluation stands as far as I’m concerned. :wink:

Thanks for the clarification. I wasn’t really trying to single you out…but the horse pucky comment stuck in my mind. :thumbsup: But yes I concur that there is no document written specifically for this purpose that I know of.

That said - I don’t know what drives the decisions on matters of Church design and layout or where or how the “standards” in a given place originate.
However, I assume that there ARE such written standards/guidelines that a given diocese goes by - but whether these are diocesan based come from some higher standards/guidelines or how detailed these might be - - - I don’t know.


That seems an uncharitable knee-jerk response, and appears to be contrary to what the Church has suggested.

GIRM 315. It is more in keeping with the meaning of the sign that the tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved not be on an altar on which Mass is celebrated.128 Consequently, it is preferable that the tabernacle be located, according to the judgment of the diocesan Bishop:

a. Either in the sanctuary, apart from the altar of celebration, in a form and place more appropriate, not excluding on an old altar no longer used for celebration (cf. no. 303);

b. Or, likewise, in some chapel suitable for the faithful’s private adoration and prayer129 and organically connected to the church and readily visible to the Christian faithful.

It goes like this:

Because you already have consecrated hosts in the tabernacle while the priests is confecting the Eucharistic - there’s two “moments” going on at the same time - the sacrifice of the altar (once and for all time), and the presences of the blessed sacrament.

In order to focus on the Eucharistic moment the altar itself should be the focus of the architecture for the sanctuary.

I got a 404 - not found when I tried the link to the GIRM

Sorry about that. Try this.

I think it important to point out that the GIRM is NOT forbidding the Tabernacle from being in the sanctuary as was questioned in the original post. In fact, it is addressing whether the Tabernacle is to be placed ON the alter of celebration (highlighted in red above). Secondly, section “a” seems to indicate that the Tabernacle can indeed be kept in the sanctuary (highlighted in blue above). So perhaps this may help clear up a misunderstanding on the part of the individual mentioned in the OP’s post. However, it should be explained to that individual that the Church does NOT in fact restrict the Tabernacle from the sanctuary.

thank you for all the replies. It seems that the only documents stated say that either is expectable so long as the tabernacle is not ON the Actual alter of sacrifice. I must admit I have never seen this. The story I was given was that the tabernacle was forbidden from being on the wall directly behind the alter at the mid point of the sanctuary. you know as a visual centre piece.

just a few questions define EF please. and what EXACTLY is the GRIMM. is this a local US document. or a global papal rule. When was this particular instruction given.

it went well the first time perhaps we could pass this around once more and pick it apart a bit.

thanks for all the imput.

The GIRM is the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. In Latin, I believe it is abbreviated IGRM.

[quote=down under]is this a local US document. or a global papal rule.

The latter, but each episcopal conference may have its own with minor local variations. That’s why I linked to the Australian version.

[quote=down under]When was this particular instruction given.

The Latin version was promulgated in 2000, but the Australian version wasn’t approved until 2007.

FYI, the placement of the tabernacle away from the altar only occurred in places where a deacon or another priest could be assured during a Mass at the main altar.

This was because the priest was prohibited from leaving the Sanctuary during Mass. Thus to reserve the Blessed Sacrament after Mass would require a Deacon, or a priest acting in the role of a Deacon to repose the Sacrament.

A smaller Mass was said in the chaple itself, so at the tabernacle was placed centrally for those Masses.

Thus this ‘older practice’ that you mention only occurred in Cathedrals and, perhaps, parishes were the assistance of multiple priests could be assured.

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